A top conservative commentator writing this week for Reason.com suggests that we, as a nation, should abolish the popular vote. Yes, really.
Eric Boehm’s stunning comments come in the midst of a tempestuous controversy over the existence of the other half of the way that Americans elect presidents: the electoral college.
The electoral college is the reason that Donald Trump, and not Hillary Clinton, is the one who is soon going to take the oath of office and officially become the next president of the United States.
Trump lost the national popular vote by a margin of almost 3 million. However, by winning enough densely populated states, he garnered a winning margin in the electoral college. States that are more densely populated have more members of the electoral college, and electoral college members are assigned to a particular candidate based on the popular vote total in their home state alone, as opposed to the entire nation.
Thus, with this glaring example of the electoral college’s disconnect from actual democracy – after all, a man supported by only a minority of the country is about to become president – many have been arguing for the abolition of the electoral college. After all, the electoral college was invented to try and fit the concept of democracy with the interests of slaveholders.
Originally, the “small” states that the electoral college was supposed to protect from the “big” states weren’t geographically small. Rather, they were small in terms of voting population, since states like Virginia were geographically large, but they were small in terms of voting population since slaves didn’t vote.
Boehm, however, says not so fast to all of this. His suggestion, as mentioned, is to not abolish the electoral college, but to abolish the popular vote.
‘With the prospect of Campaign 2020 kicking off before the headaches of Campaign 2016 have faded, allow me to suggest a better way forward. Keep the Electoral College, with some minor tweaks, and abolish the popular vote.’
He goes on to explain:
‘The only reason to hold popular votes for president, as the system functions now, is to select the “electors” from each state who will participate in the Electoral College. Here’s a better way. Hold a national lottery to determine the 538 electors (drawing an appropriate number from the voter rolls of each state) and then let those people choose the president.’
He is literally suggesting that the leader of the United States be selected solely by a group of 538 people. Boehm suggests that it is prudent to have 538 randomly selected people select the leader of the free world.
He doesn’t address any rigging of the “national lottery” and its effect on who leads the free world, and, more acutely, keeps their fingers on the United States’ nuclear codes.
Neither does he address the fact that such a suggestion flies in the face of that the global consensus is to be moving towards the self-rule of the many, not the rule of the masses by the few.
His defenses are weak, including citing the American founders’ distrust of the American people as a whole to make a prudent choice for president.
The scary thing is that he likely has millions of people who agree with him. A Huffington Post/ YouGov poll released in the days following the election says that around 2 in 3 Republicans support the electoral college.
With Republicans about to officially be in control of both houses of Congress and the White House, what the GOP wants goes.
Featured Image via DeAgostini/ Getty Images.